Zimbabwe court grants bail to trade unionists

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Peter Mutasa

Trade union leaders and scores of activists detained in Zimbabwe ahead of planned marches over the country’s worsening economic crisis, were released on bail Saturday, lawyers said.

Cossam Ncube of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told AFP that Peter Mutasa, president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s largest and secretary general Moyo were among those released by a Harare magistrate’s court.

“The seven ZCTU leaders were granted $50 bail each and ordered by the court to reside at their official addresses,” Ncube said.

“At least 20 others were released Friday in Mutare after they were granted bail.” Mutare is in east of the country, near the border with Mozambique.

The activists were arrested in a nationwide police crackdown Thursday after Mutasa called for protests, despite a police ban on public gatherings in the capital due to a recent cholera outbreak.

The ZCTU planned a national strike to protest against sharp price hikes, a new tax on electronic transactions and daily shortages ranging from fuel to bread.

On Saturday, police patrolled the streets of the capital Harare armed with truncheons, guns and teargas canisters, as water cannon trucks parked on some streets.

Zimbabwe’s moribund economy has hit new lows in recent days with shops struggling to stock shelves, medicine running out and long queues forming outside petrol stations.

The local “bond note” currency, which in theory has the same value as the US dollar has been in free-fall in recent weeks. That has raised fears of a return to the hyper-inflation that wrecked national finances in 2009.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power last year after Robert Mugabe was ousted by the military has vowed to ensure essential daily goods are available.

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AU and UN support peace in South Sudan

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The African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) say they fully support the recent agreement between South Sudan’s warring parties to form a unity government.

The two institutions say that the agreement can be perfected with time, what is important now is peace in South Sudan.

South Sudan was one of the countries whose status was discussed at the second AU/UN annual conference held in Ethiopia.

In their recent round of talks South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have agreed to a ceasefire and to work together.

The two agree that there will be four vice presidents and opposition leader Machar be the first.

The UN says that with the worsening humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, any peace deal that can end the war is a good deal:

Antonio Guterres UN secretary General says: “When I saw that there is a chance of peace I immediately believed that all of us need to do everything possible to make that chance become a reality. The details of the transitional agreement might not be perfect; I think that is totally secondary if peace is indeed achieved.”

With the new agreement there will be additional members to government to accommodate the other warring parties in the conflict.

The terms of the latest deal by the South Sudan warring parties is similar to one that was reached in 2015 but never held.

The African Union agrees that the agreement is not perfect but says it is workable for now.

South Sudan continues to reel from the effect of internal conflict that began in 2013 and has since displaced over 1 million people internally and those seeking refuge in neighbouring Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia.

The AU and the UN say they will not hesitate to take punitive measures against spoilers of peace in South Sudan should the warring factions fail to uphold the new peace  deal they have agreed on.



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Kenyan county governor accused of fraud conspiracy

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A Kenyan county governor and three other officials were charged with conspiracy to defraud the government and abuse of office on Wednesday.

Sospeter Ojaamong, the governor of Busia County in western Kenya, and the three others pleaded not guilty as they appeared in front of anti-corruption Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti.

Ogoti ordered all the four officials to be detained until July 6 when a ruling on their application for release on bail will be given.

Ojaamong was arrested on Wednesday as part of a crackdown that has seen dozens of raids and investigations in the past two months. He told KTN News television on Tuesday he was “clean as cotton, or snow”.

The director of public prosecutions, Noordin Haji, said on Tuesday that Ojaamong, eight other officials and a company would be prosecuted over the theft of millions of Kenyan shillings of public funds.

He said the charges against Ojaamong centered on procurement practices linked to a solid waste management system in Busia, which borders Uganda.

Five others to be charged are still at large.

Kenyan media have reported on more than a dozen graft scandals involving state agencies and officials since President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected last year. He has promised a renewed crackdown on graft.

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Zimbabwe Defence Force refutes allegations it will rig elections

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The Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) has refuted allegations that it will rig the 30 July elections saying it supports President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF.

The opposition MDC Alliance alleged during its protest march last month that the army was deployed to Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission and at opposition campaign rallies.

The army told the media in Harare that if serving members were participating in political campaigns they were doing so illegally, and will be disciplined. Staying in the barracks, the Zimbabwe Defence Force says no soldiers have been ordered to intimidate people in rural areas into voting for some political parties.

The reports are mischievous. “If some serving members are participating in the on-going political campaigns, they are doing so illegally and not as a result of an instruction from commanders.  Those with information on such misconduct must provide us with full details of such individuals for appropriate disciplinary action to be taken against them,” says ZDF’s Colonel Overson Mugwisi.

On a charm offensive, the army detailed its current deployments that include clearing of landmines, parks’ rangers and construction of schools and clinics. It says it has no direct role in the upcoming 30 July elections.

“ Our role in the elections is mainly to support the Zimbabwe Republic Police in their role of the maintenance of law and order in the country before, during and after the harmonised elections, we also remain ready to support the the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with transport.”

The army says soldiers will only be seen at political events attended by VIP’s assumingly for security, and humanitarian work. While soldiers have the right to vote they have been reminded they cannot hold political positions unless they are retired.

The opposition has welcomed this. “They have been saluting not Nelson Chamisa but the authority I carry so I am not worried they are a patriotic army in fact I respect them, if there is one thing that tickles me it is the honour of our men and boys in uniform, they are my agenda number one they are not getting what is commensurate with the smart work they are doing,  I have no problem with soldiers,” says MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa.

Southern African Development Community is confident the blast in Bulawayo was an isolated incident . “ I’ve had extensive discussions with President Mnangagwa soon after the hand grenade explosion as well as during the summit, I think those who sought to attack and kill were making an assault on democracy, we are pleased that he survived, it seems that it was a once off, otherwise  I am confident that they will have a peaceful election,” says President Cyril Ramaphosa.


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Rome gives Libya 12 boats to ‘fight human trafficking’ at sea

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The Italian government will give Libya 12 boats to help them “fight human trafficking” and curb the flow of migrants into Europe, Rome announced late on Monday.

The announcement comes as several EU nations are pressuring Libya to take charge of migrant rescues in the Mediterranean, with the bloc debating how to handle the influx of migrants to the continent.

The measure, adopted during a cabinet meeting, “aims to strengthen the operational capacity of the Libyan coastguard” to ensure the “proper management” of the migrant situation in the Mediterranean, a government statement said.

The measure “prioritises the need to fight human trafficking, to protect human life at sea and to curb migratory pressure,” the statement added.

The Italian government will also take responsibility for the maintenance of the 12 boats until the end of the year and offer training to the Libyan coastguard and naval authorities.

According to the Italian transport and infrastructure ministry, the total cost of this aid is around $2.9 million.

“We are aware that this is not enough and that we must work to stabilise the situation, strengthen the rule of law and the protection of people’s dignity in the territory of the emerging Libyan state,” Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said in the statement.

In recent weeks EU leaders have cracked down on charity migrant rescue boats operating at sea.

Several EU leaders have accused NGO ships of indirectly aiding human traffickers, saying they should let the Libyan coastguard coordinate rescue missions and take the migrants back to Libya.

But NGOs argue the migrants would not be safe in Libya, where they have faced abuse and rape in holding centres.

According to figures from the International Organization for Migration, more than 1 000 people have died in the Mediterranean so far this year.

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Zimbabwe’s first-time voters will decide election results

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Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe’s youth and more specifically the first time voters aged between 18 and 25 are viewed by many analysts as the major deciding factors of who will claim victory on July the 30th.

That’s when the Southern African nation heads to the polls.

The country’s electoral commission says more than a million out of the five and half million registered voters fall in this bracket.

The main opposition MDC, led by 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa appears to be appealing more and more to this group and has been drawing huge crowds.

Incumbent leader and Zanu PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa was quick to target this key constituency as well.

The battle lines for the July 30th polls have been drawn. And it’s now down to serious business for the incumbent.

The President took his campaign to his home province and made it clear that unlike his predecessor he is not taking the country’s youth for granted.

“You are the future. Now, if you are the future, you must be empowered now. For you, to be good leaders of tomorrow you have to be empowered.”

Mnangagwa said his administration aims to be a middle-income country by 2030, prioritising business and economics as well.

It aims to create economic opportunities to empower the youths in all sectors reducing the unemployment rate.

Mnangagwa says, “Within the last five to six months, we have attracted in this country around 16 billion dollars in terms of projects alone and this must go towards the creation of employment, the bringing into the country of technology.”

He further called on the nation to remain patient as his administration rebuilds the country and charts the way forward for the country.

Mnangangwa has promised that his government will ensure free and fair elections.

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Men should be gender activists to fight patriarchy: Mlambo-Ngcuka

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The only way to bring an end to patriarchy is mobilise men who will become gender activists, this according to Executive Director of UN Women, Doctor Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Speaking during the Thabo Mbeki Foundation ninth annual Africa Day lecture at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria, Mlambo-Ngcuka stressed that it is important that more men become gender activists.

“All over the world not enough men have been mobilised to become gender activists and dismantle patriarchy where they project where they project positive masculinity and fight and defeat the dominant toxic masculinity which expects a man to beat up somebody in order to look strong. It is not about fixing the woman. Fix the system, change the paradigm.”

Mlambo-Ngcuka who is also the United Nations Under-Secretary-General, delivered the lecture under the theme “Gender Equality and Women Empowerment: A Necessary Paradigm Shift in Africa’s Quest for Democratisation, Development and Poverty Eradication.”

WATCH: Video below 

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Lesbian film ban ‘ridiculous’ says Kenya Film Commission

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The head of Kenya’s film commission has slammed a decision to impose a domestic ban a Kenya-made film about lesbian love that received a standing ovation at this month’s Cannes festival. “Rafiki”, based on an award-winning short story, tells the tale of two young women who fall in love and was slapped with a ban
Source: The New Age

NGOs demand the release of 26 activists in Niger

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Ten international NGOs including Amnesty International and Oxfam called Friday for the release of 26 civil society activists detained since March after a banned demonstration in Niamey. A joint statement published on Oxfam’s website called on “the authorities in Niger to ease the situation by releasing the detainees and bring an end to the prosecutions”. Adama
Source: The New Age

DRC priest ‘infected with Ebola’ as death toll revised down

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A Catholic priest has been quarantined in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being infected with Ebola as health officials on Friday revised down the number of deaths to 22. “We have quarantined a priest from the diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro who tested positive” for the Ebola virus, a medical source told AFP on Thursday, on
Source: The New Age

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